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4k Or D-Log problem ? pulsing/flickering, poor quality.
6535 26 2016-7-1
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martin.gros
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Hi everybody,
I own a Phantom 4 for 1 month now. The unit was bought specially for a professional project (I'm photo/videographer).
As I work in the video industry for many years now I quickly identified some major issues concerning footage quality of the P4 camera. And I'm not alone...Many users across internet reported difficulties to achieve constant quality footage in 4k (and other situation but I'll discuss mostly about 4K). There are also many question about D-Log quality and I hope this topic will be the perfect place to sum up issues, solutions, and best of the best, maybe to have official words from DJI.

Before I start, I would like to precise that I'm used to work with many type of cameras and footage, from dslr, red, alexa, sony's F3 F5 Fs7 Fs5, OZO etc...We also have a post-production unit at our office and we do pro level editing and color grading for TV/Film industry. Moreover I want to mention that my P4 is in perfect condition, no crashs, no shocks, and firmware updated.

So for almost 1 month now, I'm testing the unit and the footage. My conclusion is pretty simple, the Phantom 4 4k + D-log quality is poor and unconsistant.
From day one and my first flight I quickly saw some "pulsing" or "flickering" artifact on the footage. Many others users have reported the same issue. It's mostly present in shadow and small detailled area (grass, rocks, water, foliage). It's not related to the aircraft nor camera movements, it can occur on stable shot as well. It's not related to ISO or light condition, I experienced this issue during many different type of flights and places.

This "flickering/pulsing" problem never appeared on 2k and HD footage.
I suspect that the problem come from the resolution and I must confess I didn't tested D-log versus others profiles. Simply because as a professional my goal is to shoot D-log to achieve the best quality for post and grading.

Without any clear answer or clarification from other pilots, DJI or google, I finally decided to do a true comparaison test in the video below.


WORKFLOW :
All these shots have been done with the same unit during 2 differents days.
Always the same camera setting, lights change are naturals, clouds etc.
ISO 100 - 1/60s @ 29,97fps
Everything manual - Sunny WB fixed
3D noise reduction off
ND8/pl for test 1, ND4/pl for test 2 (porlapro cinema collection)
D-Log + custom -2;-2;0 (sharpness;contrast;saturation)

Recorded in P4 MOV
Transcoded in proRes
Edited in PremierePro (last version)
Exported as ProRes Master and youtube H264.

First of all, as I wanted to compare 3 resolution in the same video so I edited in a timeline with the setting of the smaller one.
By reducing the 4k and 2k footage to 1080p these artifact/pulsing/flickering are less visible than the original resolution of each one.
Moreover I just realized that the youtube export and online compression tend to also smooth them. It's more present on the original file than what you see on youtube player.

Saying that, even in a final 1080p output, my proRes master file is really flickering/pulsing with 4k footage.
I also exported some segment of 4k 2k and HD in their native resolution. Same results. (video bellow)
I did the same job using non-transcoded media, editing with native h264 and exporting as is. Same results, as well as exporting as proRes (non senses but I tried).
I exported graded/ungraded footage, same results.
I tried anti flickering filter, no success (and not a solution, I want a clean 4k on my 1600$ drone)
I finally tried on FCPX just to be sure...same results.

I also see less detail/sharpen in 4k than 2k and less in 2k than HD.  4k < 2k < HQ.

Keep in mind that everything described in the video is just more clear on masters and original files.
(I would ike to upload those proRes masters and other original files used, but unfortunatly, for the purpose of the shoot I'm in an area with really slow internet connexion. Giving you this video was already difficult.)

Conclusion :
On a big part of my 4k footage I have flickering/pulsing/artifact problem. From original media to edited output. No matter what are my camera setting or light condition, altitude, speed etc.
I don't think is a D-log problem because D-log is great on 2k and HD. I'll try 4k with other profile in the next days.
Even if I'm sure it's on the original media, as you can see, I tried a lot of differents things. Differents editing method, different output, video player etc. Same results.
My biggest regret in this post is the fact that youtube compression minimize a lot what I describe, so please look and read carefully.
Some people on internet said that 4k is just an electronic blow up of HD footage, if it the case, DJI did misleading advertising IMO.

4k to 4k segment

1- I would like to know if it's a problem with my unit, with some or with all P4. (pretty sure i'm not alone, after all the posts I saw accross the web)
2- I would like to know if there is any tricks that can help or mistakes I maybe do.
3- What do you think of your 4k footage ?

Best regards.

ps: original files will be available for download asap.


2016-7-1
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DJI-Paladin
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Hello Martin.If is a possible, you can upload all the original samples you make to dropbox and post the link here. We will look into it.
2016-7-1
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martin.gros
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DJI-Paladin Posted at 2016-7-2 10:07
Hello Martin.If is a possible, you can upload all the original samples you make to dropbox and post  ...

I'm trying to do my best to upload them asap but actually having poor internet connexion.

You should really have a look at the same thread discussed on phantom pilots.com forums...other user have the same issue. http://www.phantompilots.com/thr ... .82968/#post-857946

The pulsing effect is clear when monitoring waveform in Premiere, DaVinci, FCPX, the waveform reflect the pulsing. In technical word that mean that something happen ON the footage.
2016-7-1
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Mabou2
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Hi Martin...
I came to the same conclusion. The full 4k isn't really up to snuff for pro use if shooting at normal sharpness and saturation (in log mode or other).  THAT said, if you select the CUSTOM Style (in the DJI Go app) and set all three parameters to -2 or if you are bit more adventurous, -3... then some of the processing is taken away from the on-board computer and you simply make up for it in post production with excellent results.  (You will find these settings under Menu->Video->Style) I posted a few videos in this forum showing the 4k pixillation (I called it "Shimmering" because it is different than typical pixillation), particularly if flying close to something with a lot of detail and doing a gimbal up or down move.  The shimmering isn't as much of a problem when panning or looking at the horizon, much more of a problem when the footage is moving vertically through the frame (such as shooting straight down while flying forward or gimbaling up or down).

Shooting in the 2k setting works beautifully.   

When it comes down to it, we have an amazing piece of technology in our hands and in the air.  Personally, I think that my expectations were too high for a camera to shoot perfect 4k on a craft that only costs $1,400.  It is hard enough to find a dedicated 4k video camera that shoots pro-level 4k for twice this price,  let alone one that is connected to such an incredible platform as the P4.  

Yes, you could say that if DJI is promoting the 4k abilities, it should shoot excellent 4K... In the same thought, you could say that DJI is promoting the 120 fps slow motion, it should be impeccable slomo, but really the 120fps look terrible. For what it is worth, the 120fps looks terrible on my $6,000 Panasonic HVX200 too.  There are concessions we are making by not spending $5k or more for a more professional drone with a higher end camera...  I have to say though, warts and all, this is a stellar addition to my kit.  I am amazed by it every time I fly (more than 100 flights so far), and stunned by the quality I am able to get with just a little bit of tweaking in post.
Try the Custom Style settings that I described in the DJI Go app.  The image is quite a bit flatter when shooting but it all comes back in post with exposure, saturation, and sharpening.
2016-7-2
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martin.gros
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Mabou2 Posted at 2016-7-2 20:33
Hi Martin...
I came to the same conclusion. The full 4k isn't really up to snuff for pro use if shoo ...

Hi,
Mabou, I'm always in custom style with all three parameters @ -2, actually in my tests I kept saturation @ 0 to keep it original in post and be sure that the artifacts don't came from a saturation boost in post.

I didn't have biggest expectation than what DJI claimed and sold me. I'm totally in love with this device, and this thread is not to destroy DJI or complain about. This thread it to improve things and be able to work with the 4k feature in the best way.

4k is just a resolution, a lot of cheap gear are able to do really nice 4k now... Samsung/Iphone video are great and we speaking of phones ;).

For now I'll keep everything in 2k, IMO is the most beautiful.
2016-7-2
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jwatt
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martin.gros@yma Posted at 2016-7-2 23:23
Hi,
Mabou, I'm always in custom style with all three parameters @ -2, actually in my tests I kept ...

We ran into the exact same problem shooting 4K with the first P4 we bought.  We spent several days "visiting" with DJI support, both on the phone and online and indeed posted several shots to YouTube and sent to them directly.  Weren't really getting anywhere so finally purchased a second P4 shot some tests on it and no pulsing in 4K, so that proved to us the original P4 was defective so sent it in to DJI, they replaced the power board and now it works great.

That said, we understand that the sensor on all these smaller cameras is really designed for 2K and by shooting 4K we're just putting more information through the 2K processor so if you can, shoot 2K, though we still have clients who insist of 4K so that's what we give them.

DJI service is pretty fast so suffer no more.  Send it in for a fix.  Good Luck!   JW
2016-7-3
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Mabou2
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Also...  I upgraded to a much faster video card which might have helped too (if the bandwidth bottleneck was in the writing to the card)
2016-7-3
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Mabou2
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martin.gros@yma Posted at 2016-7-3 02:23
Hi,
Mabou, I'm always in custom style with all three parameters @ -2, actually in my tests I kept ...

Hi Martin...  If I came off as seeming to diminish you, wasn't intended at all.  Just trying to help and work together as we learn about the nuances of the incredible technology at our fingertips.  Not sure if you felt I was being snarky or not, but thought I'd address this just in case.  Hang in there buddy.
2016-7-3
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martin.gros
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Mabou2 Posted at 2016-7-3 17:34
Hi Martin...  If I came off as seeming to diminish you, wasn't intended at all.  Just trying to he ...

no worries matte, my english is not so good, I didn't want to diminish you as well ;)
2016-7-3
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martin.gros
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jwatt@bennett-w Posted at 2016-7-3 15:56
We ran into the exact same problem shooting 4K with the first P4 we bought.  We spent several days ...

Thanks so much for this info !
That's mean my cam is maybe defective (from day one out of the box).
I know that 4k on this small camera can't be as clean as 2k and HD, BUT pulsing/flickering effect just make the footage unusable.

I'm unfortunately away for a shoot, I'll be back in Canada in august and will contact DJI at this time.

DJI-Paladin, can you have a word concerning that ?

best.
2016-7-3
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DJI-Paladin
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martin.gros@yma Posted at 2016-7-4 01:48
Thanks so much for this info !
That's mean my cam is maybe defective (from day one out of the box) ...

I'm keeping my eyes on this issue. So to post some original videos ( not edited) and post the link here would be appreciated.Thank you for your understanding.
2016-7-4
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macusek
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Hi, I have the same problem - PULSING IMAGE! - DJI INSPIRE ONE PRO X5. Settings: Dlog, iso100, shutter 1/50, 4K, 25fps. What is going on? Can I fix it or I need to send ma Inspire One Pro to dji service in Germany? I am from Poland.

Is any dji update can solve my (and many others) problem!? You know dji...I saw videos directly from Inspire One Pro from your official page and there is no pulsing/flickering on them...so...What are you going to do with my problem because it is not acceptable



2016-7-17
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FI. Stanley
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D-Log on the phantom a bit weak. I not say is bad but also not great I'm just pull the contrast down and sharpness-1 saturation-1
On my latest video in Italy-Cinque terre i did used D-Log because was to much color details where i shooting alot of painting colors. U need to know when u use the right Color Profile.

D-Cinelike is awesome.
2016-7-17
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macusek
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I noticed that this pulsing is the highest in dark, black areas of image. Very big flickering effect is when x5 is recording forest in sunny day (a lot of contrast everywhere)...

I think that you DJI have to give us nice plugin for Resolve, AE, Premiere Pro etc. to repair this problem. Look at Flicker Free Plugin from Digital Anarchy and get inspiration because I won't pay 150$ for your fault. Or give us new firmware.
2016-7-18
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sguisset
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i have the same problem and flickering with HD 25p footage.
2016-7-25
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sguisset
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P4 flickering
2016-7-25
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Healimonster
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Original Poster: This was shot with no picture profile and no ajustments in the GO app to contrast etc.  It was shot 4k 30fps, iso 100 and most of the shots were at shutter speed of 120 thanks to DJI ND 16 filter on the cam.
It was edited in Premeire CC 2015 at native resolution, color corrected to add some contrast and saturation, exported at native, and then transcoded with media encoder with the 4k youtube setting.

Would you consider any of the shots to be pulsating/ flickering or unusable in a profesional enviroment? Perhaps the water shots?
I understand at times we might be getting into a gray area when we are talking about bad unusable shots compared to usuable shots.
Any feedback would be great because I am trying to dial in my settings for the best shots as I too have noticed some weird looking 4k video in the past but I mostly blamed that on having to use a high shutter speed.


2016-7-26
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masonthoward
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I have experienced flickering on the image as well, which of course didn't seem to be visible when monitoring on a smartphone, and the cause seemed to be overhead sunlight cutting through the propellers. If you don't want to spend the money on the Digital Anarchy Flicker Free plug, which actually helped clean up the flicker for me in this case, perhaps a lens hood of some sort would be useful to shade the lens. I don't believe DJI makes them at this point, but there are third party solutions out there - some people 3D print them.

Also, another issue to consider, especially with aerial shots because there is often so much detail and intricate patterns for a small sensor to make up a 4K resolution image, another issue is moire, aliasing, or that unwanted waviness in parts of the image. It's difficult to avoid, even with larger sensor cameras, so you just have to pick your battles. Some tools can only go so far and each new version is hopefully a solution to past problem's being solved. I'm not sure they make any kind of low pass filter to help with moire for the P4, but I'd be interested to see if anyone's had luck with one?
2016-7-26
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OmegaStageThr33
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@martin.gros did you ever get your problem resolved?
2016-11-2
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fanscdee14bd
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Hi DJI Paladin - I have had my Phantom 4 pro + for a couple of weeks my 4K recording is terrible it stops starts and freezes - I am using Sandisk extreme pro 64gb please help
2017-3-22
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Geebax
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fanscdee14bd Posted at 2017-3-22 21:55
Hi DJI Paladin - I have had my Phantom 4 pro + for a couple of weeks my 4K recording is terrible it stops starts and freezes - I am using Sandisk extreme pro 64gb please help

Are you looking at the video on the built-in display? What does it look like if you take the SD card out of the aircraft, copy the file to a computer and then play it back?
2017-3-22
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jacknjchn520
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Based on those posts, it sounds like this is an AVID issue. Have you tried looking at the footage imported to another editor? FCP or Premiere?

What setting did you film in on the Inspire camera? There may be some tricks fkr converting the file to a PSF that the client wants on their end - a workaround really. I recall reading something about this awhile ago on an editor forum.
2017-6-20
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jacknjchn520
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The X5R footage looks like it was shot at a 1/200 shutter speed, or faster (1/500 or 1/1000). That often produces such a choppy effect.

At 30 frames/second, each frame covers 33.33 milliseconds. When you shoot at 1/200, each image covers 5 milliseconds. That leaves 28.33 milliseconds, the vast majority of the frame, uncovered. So you see 5 milliseconds of footage displayed for 33.33 milliseconds, then the next frame jumps ahead by 28.33 milliseconds.

However, I do see that you tried 24 FPS at 1/50 and 30 FPS at 1/60. That follows the "180 degree rule", which says that motion looks most natural when the sensor is open for 1/2 of the frame duration. If this is correct, and if this X5R footage is from such a shot, then I have no explanation for this.
2017-6-28
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lusbek46
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Someone has tried to disable the mechanical shutter ?
I hadn't time to try that, but for sure I will try as soon as possible; and have u found the same flickering annoying stuff while u shoot at 60fps, or not? I have to try that also.
2017-7-4
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jim.jimrichard
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macusek Posted at 2016-7-17 22:43
Hi, I have the same problem - PULSING IMAGE! - DJI INSPIRE ONE PRO X5. Settings: Dlog, iso100, shutter 1/50, 4K, 25fps. What is going on? Can I fix it or I need to send ma Inspire One Pro to dji service in Germany?  I am from Poland.

Is any dji update can solve my (and many others) problem!? You know dji...I saw videos directly from Inspire One Pro from your official page and there is no pulsing/flickering on them...so...What are you going to do with my problem because it is not acceptable

Did you ever resolve your problem? I have the same situation going on with my new X5!
2017-7-12
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lusbek46
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jim.jimrichard Posted at 2017-7-12 20:27
Did you ever resolve your problem? I have the same situation going on with my new X5!

I think that I've almost completely solved the flickering problem guys !
2 weeks ago I had a big flickering problem under the sun while shooting at 4k 25fps, with an high speed shutter (no nd filters), around 1/800 - 1/1000, and I was really disappointed, but today I've tried totally different settings.

Unfortunately, I feel so stupid because I haven't tried different roads one by one, so at the moment I can't identify which is the exact factor that has made the difference, in the case that just one thing is the point.
I haven't noticed flickering especially with 90° camera angle, especially with grass and trees (read that a lot of people have this problem) but also a little bit in 0° camera angle.

I shooted under the sun at 1pm/2.30pm (short shadows).
My settings were fully manual (M) :

- 4k at 50fps 3840x2160 (so 16:9 4k) h264
- F11 , F9 , F6.3 , F5 , F4 , F2.8
- shutter: 1/50 , 1/100 , 1/125 , 1/160 , 1/200
- sun preset white balance
- NO AE
- mechanical shutter DISABLED
- Cinelike color profile


I thought that is possible that the problem was caused by the MECHANICAL SHUTTER, but for sure next flights will come to check every parameter one by one.
2017-8-1
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ilav
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lusbek46 Posted at 2017-8-1 07:10
I think that I've almost completely solved the flickering problem guys !
2 weeks ago I had a big flickering problem under the sun while shooting at 4k 25fps, with an high speed shutter (no nd filters), around 1/800 - 1/1000, and I was really disappointed, but today I've tried totally different settings.

If you shoot at 50fps your shutter should always be at a multiple of 50 (1/50  1/100 1/200) combine with an appropriate ND filter (ND 4 or 8 cloudy days, ND 16 or 32 sunny days) your "pulsing" or "flickering" problem should be gone.
2017-8-1
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